We all know how frustrating it is when our ice cream melts way too quickly, making a sticky mess. The good news is that scientists may be able to create an ice cream that melts a lot slower than normal.
Researchers in the United Kingdom at the University of Dundee and the University of Edinburgh, found that BslA, a bacterial hydrophobin that lives in biofilms, which are densely packed with bacterial communities, may keep the ice cream from melting too fast if used as an ingredient.
Besides changing its melting resistance, the BslA protein will also change some other properties of the ice cream by giving it a smoother texture.
According to researchers, the biofilm consists of a group of microorganisms in which the cells attach to each other. The biofilm is held together by the matrix, which consists of extracellular DNA and polysaccharides.
While conducting the study, the researchers found that the outer surface of the biofilm is coated in an outer layer made by the BslA protein, called hydrophobic coat. This layer offers protection, much like a raincoat would. Researchers say that although BslA creates this water repellent layer, it is also able to keep together two substances that would normally not mix together (such as water and oil).
To make the ice cream, people usually use emulsifiers, which are small molecules that help unmixable ingredients stay together.
“In ice cream, the important interfaces are between fat/oil and water, air bubbles and water and the surface of ice crystals,” Cait MacPhee, a professor of biological physics at the University of Edinburgh in the United Kingdom, stated.
By adding the BslA proteins, the interactions between water, bubbles, and ice crystals, as well as the interactions between water and fat/oil, are stabilised, resulting in a slow melting effect, MacPhee added.
MacPhee says that the BslA protein can be used in other things as well. For instance, salad dressings require mixing water and oil, so the BsIA protein could replace the mustard which is normally used in some salad dressings as an emulsifier.
Researchers want to commercialise the production of BsIA ice cream, because after testing the product they saw that texture wise it was identical to regular ice cream, as well as in terms of firmness.
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